Be Disciplined: Food and Impulse Control

Katie Corbett holds the book "Perfectly Yourself"

By Katie Corbett

Last night, I ate a dessert that had about 1500 calories. For the past 17 months, I’ve been trying to lose weight. You might think that the afore-mentioned dessert would not make me feel victorious, but it does. Here’s why.

In “Perfectly Yourself,” author Matthew Kelly explains that discipline, especially when it comes to appetite and impulse control, results in greater happiness. I’m inclined to agree, and what has worked for me during my weight-loss journey illustrates that point.

Lesson 1: Do something dramatic to kick-start your progress. I started with The Slow-Carb Diet, as presented in “The 4-Hour Body,” by Tim Ferriss. It involves consuming at least 20 grams of protein within 30 minutes of waking up, avoiding all sugars and white foods, drinking lots of water, and eating no fruit, for six days per week. The seventh day is Cheat Day, and you can eat anything you want on that day. I did this for three weeks. Afterward, I knew I could do anything.

Lesson 2: Track what matters. Each week since I started slow-carb, I’ve been measuring inches. This is more effective than weight because I can see where fat is on my body. (This is also in “The 4-Hour Body” if you want to look it up and learn how.)

Lesson 3: When you’re running out of steam, get help. After I went as far as I could with the Slow-Carb approach, I didn’t want to just gain all the weight right back. I found a product that assisted in appetite suppression and fat-burning, and used that for another six weeks or so. This kept my weight-loss going, and helped me get used to avoiding sweets without keeping a death-grip on my self-control. After I didn’t have sweets for a while, I just got used to not eating them, and they have become less appealing to me.

Lesson 4: Find a workout you love. Throughout this process, I have experimented with all kinds of exercises, and have tried working out both at the gym and at home. I’ve tried swimming, high-intensity interval training, sit-ups, and in the end, running. Running won out as my favorite way to exercise, since its practical, I feel like I’m accomplishing something and moving forward with each workout, and I have a Couch to 5-K plan I use to keep me on track. All I have to do is push play on the PodRunner podcast and do whatever I’m told.

Lesson 5: Keep incorporating little changes into your life to add up to big results. Each day, I leave at least 12 hours between dinner the night before and breakfast the next morning. I drink my tea without added sugar or honey. I try to eat sweets only one day per week. I take measurements on Saturdays to track my progress. Little things are easier to do, and I know I will keep moving forward.

So, as you can probably guess, that dessert I mentioned is a sign of victory because I fully intended to eat it. I knew what I was doing and didn’t mindlessly scarf it down. And I’ll tell you, it was one of the best pieces of chocolate cake I have had in a while.

In what area can you be more disciplined? What are some steps, small or big, that you can take to get there? How will you track progress? Where will you go for help? I’d love to know, so leave a comment. Remember that anything you do to get yourself closer to this self-mastery will help in all areas of your life. And if you decide, as I did many times, that something just isn’t for you, keep trying new things until you find what works.

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Simplify Life: Say “No”

By Katie Corbett

Like many, I enjoy being helpful. There comes a point, however, when my helpfulness to others isn’t helpful to me. I get to a point where I feel like I’m doing things because I feel obligated. I have learned that it is better to simplify my life in order to make the most impact.

As Matthew Kelly suggests in “Perfectly Yourself,” saying no to commitments can be one way to get simplicity in your life. I have found learning to say no to be liberating, because it helps me select what is most important to me and do that. Also, when I say no to one thing, it leaves open space for something better to come along.

Some questions I ask to evaluate opportunities are:

• How does this opportunity align with my personal or professional goals?
• What about this opportunity intrigues me?
• Is there anything about this opportunity that I’m unsure or not excited about? Why?
• What amount of time, energy and/or other resources am I willing to commit?
• Do I like the people I will be working with on this project?
• What does successful project completion look like to me?
• In what ways will I evaluate this project along the way to ensure it is in line with my expectations?
• What will I need to give up or change in order to make room for this project in my life?
• What are my deal-breakers?
• Why do I think I’m the best person to carry out this project?

Asking these questions helps me narrow down what I am and am not willing to commit to taking on. Keeping my own priorities in mind helps me evaluate opportunities and say yes to those I truly want, and no to those that don’t serve me well. I’ve learned that if you think a project is going to be a total headache, it probably will, so best get out while you still can.

Leaving in the midst of a project can be one of the hardest things you have to do. I have needed to back out on a few occasions, either because my circumstances changed or because the project turned out to be dramatically different than I expected. I have found that if backing out is done with grace, kindness and good will to those still involved, everyone will understand and feelings will be less likely to get hurt. And after the hard work of being honest with yourself and others about what you can handle, you will find room in your life for what you truly enjoy.

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Celebrate your Progress

Katie Corbett holds the book "Perfectly Yourself"

By Katie Corbett

I love setting goals. While this means I keep moving forward, I often lose track of what I have accomplished thus far. It turns out, acknowledging and celebrating progress is the key to staying motivated.

In Matthew Kelly’s book, “Perfectly Yourself,” suggestions are given for how to recognize your achievements. Some of the methods I have found helpful are:

Keeping a List of Goals: As I cross each item off my list, and review my list at the end of each day or week, I feel a sense of pride and accomplishment as I track how far I’ve come.
Involve Others: When I set a goal, such as getting a prototype made of the garment project I’m working on, I told a few trusted friends about the project and gave them a call when the prototype was finished. It was fun hearing how excited they were as, together, we celebrated completion of this step in my project.
Rewarding Myself: When I was in high school, I didn’t always like doing my homework. I did, however, like playing the guitar. On days when I was particularly unmotivated to do my homework, I promised myself that I wouldn’t play the guitar until my homework was done. This not only gave me incentive to finish, but also gave me a way to celebrate at the end.
Taking Time to Reflect on Past Achievements: I was recently at a career workshop where we were asked to list the five accomplishments of which we were the most proud. Doing this reminded me that I had created a CD demo of songs I wrote when I was seventeen, and wrote a rough draft of a novel while in college. Remembering these activities gave me a sense of celebration as I looked back at what I had achieved.
Making Celebration a Part of the Plan: When I start a particularly daunting project, I decide in advance how I’m going to celebrate once I’m finished. My Chief Financial Officer and I recently finished the incorporation paperwork for our garment company. To celebrate, we got together and had mimosas. It was fun to acknowledge this achievement, and now we are sufficiently ready to move on to next steps.

Celebrating success is important, and doing so takes forethought and effort. What are some accomplishments you would like to celebrate? How can you put celebration into your plan of action? What can you do periodically to reflect on past achievements?

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Feeling Stuck? Just Do the Next Right Thing

Katie Corbett holds the book "Perfectly Yourself"

By Katie Corbett

If you’ve ever had a big dream, you’ve also likely had a feeling of anxiety or downright fear that you couldn’t accomplish it. In addition to using the “Fear-Setting” technique developed by Tim Ferriss, I have also found that continuing to move forward is the best way to push passed that fear. Getting started can be the hardest thing you will ever do.

In his book, “Perfectly Yourself,” author Matthew Kelly says that just doing the next right thing is a great way to hold yourself accountable to your goals and keep yourself on track. I have especially found this to be true whenever I’ve felt stuck. Some questions I have used to plot my next move are:

• Where do I want to go? What is my end-goal?
• What is the next step I can take to move me closer to achieving my goal?
• If I don’t know the steps, what can I read or who can I talk to in order to find out?
• If I don’t personally know anyone who has achieved this dream, how can I find such a person?
• If I do know what my next step is but want help, who would be the best person to help me?
• What is the next specific action I can take now to move forward?

When I started my garment project, for instance, I knew that my first step was defining what I was going to create. I knew I needed a seamstress, but didn’t know anyone personally who could help. Then, my first step became finding such a person. I reached out to some friends and to some local entrepreneurial groups on Facebook, seeking recommendations. That was it. That was all I did before I considered this project started. That was the next right thing. After that, the momentum of thanking those who had given seamstress recommendations and reaching out to the seamstresses they recommended was all I had to do. From there, the ball kept rolling.

What is your big dream? What is the next right thing you need to do in your life? Often, we already know what the answer is, and all we need is to take action to get started.

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